Shanahan said Monday he's worried about Griffin's health in the final three games after he's been sacked 24 times in the last five games (and 38 for the season). Kirk Cousins would start in his place -- and if he does it will be for the final three games. Shanahan stressed that he hasn't made a final decision, but will do so in the next two days. He also said Griffin is healthy, which makes this potential decision a curious one as the Redskins (3-10) prepare to face the equally disappointing Atlanta Falcons (3-10) on Sunday.
Shanahan has said in recent weeks that he wanted Griffin to keep playing because he needed as much time as possible on the field to develop. Griffin missed last offseason while rehabbing his surgically-repaired right knee.
"I've got to do what's best for the organization," Shanahan said. "If we feel the best thing for the organization is doing that for Robert, then hopefully Robert will understand why we're doing it. We're doing it because he's a franchise quarterback and we want him to be able to go into the offseason and get full preparation and be ready for next year rather than playing one of the next three games and all of a sudden he sets himself back with a possible injury, whatever that may be."
Shanahan said he would discuss any move like this with owner Daniel Snyder, as speculation swirls about the coach's job security. The trouble would occur if Snyder views this move differently, possibly as a way to upset the owner and quarterback. For his part, Griffin said Sunday he had no doubt he'd be the team's starter against the Falcons.
Shanahan said he spoke with Snyder on Monday morning and while he did not disclose the nature of that conversation, he did spend a little more than 24 minutes of Monday's news conference discussing his relationship with Snyder and a possible move involving Griffin. And that will only lead to more chatter about Shanahan's potential motives should he end up benching Griffin for the rest of the season.
However, for the first time, Shanahan acknowledged that a decision about his future with the Redskins could be made in the offseason, while stating he wants to return.
"You always want to come back," Shanahan said. "I love these [players]. At the end of the season we'll get a chance, Dan and I, to sit down and decide -- he'll make the final decision -- on what's in the best interest of the Washington Redskins. I'll give my opinion on what I think. Obviously he'll make the final decision. ... We've got guys working extremely hard, so I would like nothing more than to be with them."
Shanahan's status for next season entering last weekend was questionable. It was downgraded to doubtful after an ESPN.com report Sunday detailing his displeasure over the nature of the Griffin-Snyder relationship, followed later in the day by a 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs -- which followed a number of stories in recent weeks discussing the nature of Shanahan's relationship with Griffin as well as that of his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and Griffin.
Sunday's events led to Snyder contemplating his options regarding Shanahan. One team source described Snyder as bewildered by the original report. And it was clear that Snyder had no intention before this point of firing Shanahan before the end of the season. Shanahan has one year and $7 million left on his contract. The Redskins now are 24-37 under Shanahan and clinched their third double-digit loss season in his first four years.
Shanahan did say that he knows the position he's in with the Redskins given how the team's season has unfolded.
"I understand what goes on when you win the NFC East and all of a sudden you've got three wins. I understand what goes with the territory," Shanahan said. "I understand there's going to be a different story every day. It's not going to change over the next three weeks. There will be a different story that comes out that we will talk about. I understand what happens. The best thing for us to do is win versus Atlanta."
Shanahan did not want to go into detail about his relationship with Snyder. Others in the organization have said that while they might not be overly close, they have worked fine together. Shanahan said they had a good relationship.
"All I'm saying is I get along with Dan quite well. He's been a very supportive owner and hopefully I can win for him," Shanahan said.
After Sunday's loss, Shanahan did not deny the initial ESPN.com story that also said he was ready to quit after last season. Nor did he deny it Monday when asked about it again. Two weeks ago Shanahan was quick to respond to an NFL.com report that stated Griffin had asked the coaches not to show his bad plays on film.
This time he dodged the question.
"If I answer that question, which I did a couple the previous week, then what happens is you do it every day for the next three weeks, so that's why we focus on the job at hand," Shanahan said.
"There's always going to be rumors, there's going to be partial truths in everything that comes out there. In fact, when I read it they talked about me cleaning out my office, it'd take me two minutes to clean out my office. I've got two notebooks and I've got an iPad -- that would get me out of my office. When I hear different things like that I just shake my head. So that's as far as I'm going to go with that."